The Best Healing Drinks for When You’re Sick

What’s the number one thing you are supposed to do when you have a cold or the flu? Well, yes, rest. But what else? All together now: Drink plenty of fluids. But you probably don’t want to be chugging frappuchinos, right?

Some fluids are more medicinal than others. Here are 8 proven elixirs that will help you get better faster when you come down with the sniffles:

Orange juice

Ah, good ol’ o.j.! Research on orange juice’s infamous vitamin C content and its effect on the common cold has been mixed. While it seems vitamin C won’t actually repel the cold and flu, it may still shorten its duration. This may be because vitamin C is concentrated in immune cells and is depleted quickly when the body is attacking an infection, so it is important to keep replenishing your stores if you want to get better quickly. Fresh orange juice is also chock full of vitamins and natural sugars that can help keep your energy levels up through your recovery.

Black elderberries (Sambucus nigra) in a bowl, dark rustic wood

Elderberry juice

On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence to support the benefits of drinking elderberry juice when you have a cold or the flu. In fact, research has shown that black elderberry juice can actually inhibit the growth of the influenza virus, meaning it can be a great preventative measure as well. Elderberry juice can reduce sinus congestion and may shorten the duration of the flu by up to 3 days. Look for elderberry juice or elderberry syrup to keep on hand for when you start feeling a little under the weather.

Real ginger ale/ginger tea

Why real ginger? Fresh ginger actually fights off respiratory viruses and can soothe an unsettled stomach. With barely any real ginger, your average can of ginger ale isn’t going to help much. However, certain artisan bottles of real ginger soda could provide sweet support. If you prefer tea, steep some fresh slices in hot water with raw honey for near immediate relief.

Ginger-lemon drink in a bottle with a straw

Herbal tea

Whether it is ginger, hibiscus, mint, chamomile, lavender, nettle or an intoxicating blend thereof, herbal teas are tasty, comforting and uniquely medicinal. Nettle has cleansing properties; lavender and chamomile are incredibly relaxing; hibiscus is flavorful and vitamin-rich. Choose the tea that best suits your needs and sip throughout the day.

Hot water with lemon and honey

Raw honey itself is hugely medicinal, especially if it is truly raw and contains bits of comb, royal jelly and propolis. It is an immune-superfood. Lemon is alkalizing and cleansing for the body, as well as vitamin-rich. Mix these two in some hot water and you have a simple yet highly effective cold buster.

Hot toddy

Could a shot of whiskey do you good when you have a cold? Possibly. Whiskey contains loads of antioxidants that can support your body through a cold. However, don’t drink more than a shot as the alcohol is dehydrating and tough on the liver. A hot toddy with hot water, a small shot of whiskey, lemon and raw honey is the best option.

Woman hands with hot drink


There is a reason why chicken soup was your grandmother’s cure-all. It is a powerful natural medicine. Chicken contains the amino acid cysteine, which helps thin mucus in the lungs. Bone broth, which is simmered for 8 to 12 hours, delivers an even higher density of vitamins and minerals, so be sure to keep some on hand. Homemade vegetable broth can also work to soothe sore throat, prevent dehydration and fight off inflammation. You can never have too many veggies.


This shouldn’t need to be said, but water is the most important drink on this list. Your body cannot heal if you are dehydrated, so drink up. Room temperature or hot water is probably the best choice for a cold.

Did your favorite cold/flu beverage make the list? If not, share your go-to elixir below!  

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Sara S
Sara Sabout a month ago

If you have a sore threat, drinking orange juice is not a good idea, because the acid irritates your throat.

Sophie M
Sophie Mabout a month ago

Thank you

Janis K
Janis Kabout a month ago

Thanks for sharing.

Debbi Wood
Debbi Wabout a month ago

I'm fairly certain Elderberry juice isn't available here in town. One other thing to remember, any of these will be most appreciated if you have them on hand when you need them. When I'm sick, the last thing I want to do is go to the store or have to boil chicken pats to make a fresh broth.

ryan l
ryan labout a month ago


Naomi D
Naomi Dreyerabout a month ago


Andrea B
Andrea Babout a month ago

Forget about the old broth (animal cruelty) again ...

Winn A
Winn Aabout a month ago


Winn A
Winn Aabout a month ago


Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Bearaabout a month ago

I'm delighted Care2 seems to have got rid of the spam.